Thursday, March 24, 2011

Correctamundo

One of the constant theme in my rants is political correctness. As always I'll stress that I am sensitive to race, color, creed, religion, gender and whatever else people get offended by. I also think the world is a better place with some semblance of political correctness as it has made a lot of ignorant terms and expression stand out as just that, ignorant. However, as with most things, people have taken it to the extreme and everyone is forced to walk on eggshells before saying anything that could be even in some infinitesimally tiny way be misconstrued as politically incorrect. Anything traipsing within a country mile of being slightly un-PC sets off a series of tsk-tsks, head shaking and lectures on sensitivity. Me, I'm not buying it. We spend so much time worrying about how we feel others feel about certain terms, words, and yes, stereotypes that we tend to make it a bigger issue then it should have ever become. In many case a we make it a bigger issue then those who are "affected" by it even realize (or care about). There is an old expression "call a spade a spade" which basically stated means it is what it is, don't over complicate it. The funny thing is that if you use this expression, someone could actually accuse you of being un-PC as even tho the spade in question is a shovel, it also has a past as a derogatory term (see Blazing Saddles if you don't get the reference). Whatever. Below I'm going to mention a couple of terms which are generally considered politically incorrect and the situation in which they were used and the reaction it elicited just to prove how silly some of this is

Oriental- Now considered an inaccurate, dated and yes, politically incorrect term for Asians as a group. The fact that there are thousands of Asian restaurants, owned by Asians, using some form of Orient or Oriental in their name doesn't seem to matter. I think it's dated in that no one really refers to the continent of Asia as "The Orient" (as opposed to the Occident...) anymore even tho it was so for decades. I think it's more the fact the term Oriental was used as a mass tag for anyone from that part of the world regardless of their actual home country. Think, "check out that Oriental fella over there". 2 recent, real world, Rich O experiences with this term.
  1. A recent conversation between someone close to me and a person she was doing business with got to a point where the other person, a white male in his early 30's, mentioned an earlier customer who was an "older, Oriental woman". Well, she went into a diatribe about how Oriental isn't appropriate, he's too young to be plead ignorance on using outdated terms like that and generally (and in a good-natured way) browbeat him for a good minute. The result was he lost composure and seemed distracted for the rest of the meeting. My opinion? Unnecessary browbeating.The more questionable content was him specifying that the customer was elderly and Asian, not using the term Oriental
  2. I was at work on a quiet day and was musing aloud with a co-worker about a restaurant I saw called Oriental Chinese Restaurant. I was carrying on like I often do about how silly I thought the name was and comparing it to opening a place called European French Restaurant or the like. Well, quicker then the speed of light another co-worker ran up to me said "there are Chinese customers in the store!!! I can hear you from here. That's so inappropriate". I said, well, no, it isn't. I said not one thing that was inappropriate or insulting (though maybe not terribly funny either). I was pointing out the absurdity of the name of an eatery, not the customers, the Chinese people, or really anyone at all and I told my co-worker to get a grip and...well, I won't print the rest
African American- Probably one of the best examples of a politically correct term. It is the now accepted term for those formerly identified as black. I don't have a ton of black friends but those I do have still refer to themselves as black, not African American. Look, anything is better then "colored" but still, it seems overcompensating. The funny part is people as so afraid to say "black" anymore they are describing any "person of color" regardless of birthplace or ancestral home as African American. Couple of quick examples;
  1. I was serving jury duty recently and most of the people involved in this case of larceny on both sides were natives of Cameroon and only a couple of them were naturalized American citizens. So basically 2 were indeed African Americans and the rest were Africans (get out your world map). When we were deliberating one guys was trying to point out the lawyer for the defense was implying prejudice in one part of the case because everyone on the defenses side were "African Americans". After 4 days with these strangers I was feeling like being a prick so I pointed out that only 2 were African Americans. He said no, all of them are and I said, Um, no, most are Africans, not African Americans. He said, well, you know what I mean and I said, no, what do you mean. He said well, they'll all...and I said "black"? He said, well you can't really say that anymore and I said, actually, yes you can if it it more accurate then incorrectly identifying them as Americans, which they weren't
  2. Mike Grier who played hockey at B.U. (and who's dad once worked for the Pat's) recently passed a milestone in playing 1,000 games in the NHL which is remarkable. I was at the bar and in discussing I said it's a remarkable feat that is being lessened by the constant mentioning of "1st African American". A guy sitting next to me said "what about Grant Fuhr" and I answered "no on both counts" he said "huh"? I answered "he didn't play 1,000 games and he's Canadian" to which he answered "Oh, I thought he played over 1,000 games and there are tons of Canadian African Americans"...
  3. A friend of a friend, who is indeed black, and I were joking about this very subject and he said he hates being referred to as an African American. He said I'm American, born and raised and the furthest back I can trace my family to is Haiti which last I checked was NOT in Africa
Midget- Admittedly this is one of those words that just sounds ugly. But it was a long accepted term defining a person of short stature but otherwise standard proportions. Now, I don't have a problem with people taking offense to the term but is it any worse then the PC "little person"? In my opinion, no,
  1. Only real life example wasn't really real life but from a reality tv show. The show about a traveling troupe of midget wrestlers and their lives on the road. The leader of this merry gang calls himself and his cohorts midgets to the chagrin of dwarf activists. On the first show he got in the ring at a show at a crowded bar, stood in the center of the ring and asked the crowd "what am I"? No one said a word so he asked again "what kind of person am I"? Finally, one woman yelled out "a little person" to which he responded "f*#k you, I'm a midget. There's nothing little about me". Amen brother, amen
So, my point? Relax people. I know it's different but if someone calls me white and not Caucasian I'm ok (and based on skin tone I actually am whiter then white). If someone refers to me as a Mick in regard to my Irish heritage it's all good. If someone else takes offense to someone calling me that, that's a different story. Mind your own business until you know how those you are defending feel about the word you are defending them from. We all know the inappropriate, ignorant, insulting terms that have been more or less eradicated from every day lexicon (thank god) but let's not go overboard n the other direction stumbling and bumbling over words we think may insult someone. I'm sure if you tried hard enough you could find someone offended by almost any word so just speak as you speak or spend the rest of your life self-censoring everything you say

In the interest of those of you members of the PCA, I'm recommending the following words and terms be eliminated from the English language (sorry, no explanations, figure it out yourself)
  • Colored pencils, colored socks
  • Indian Summer, Cleveland Indians, Indianapolis, and the state of Indiana
  • Blackboard, black eye, Black Death, black mark
  • The midget division in hockey (as well as bantams...can't insult those roosters)
  • Oriental Avenue in Monopoly and the Orient Heights T-Station
  • Broad side, Notre Dame, Chick Fila,
  • Eskimo Pie
  • Vancouver Canucks
  • Doo Wop music, Guinea pig, Father Guido Sarducci, and the Dagobar System from Star Wars
  • Paddy cakes and paddy wagon (ok, that is an actual derogatory term which is now commonplace)
I think you get my drift. Goodnight and have a pleasant tomorrow

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